As I previously said, I love whisky very much. I prefer it to all other alcohols when I want something to drink straight.

Also I’m keen on modern cocktail recipes with whisky – blended as well as single malt. Sometimes they look very complex and require expensive or handmade ingredients but it just increases my desire to make them.

Lately I take my time to look for new recipes with whisky, and Penicillin by Sam Ross became the first one I was interested in.

Getting ahead of myself, I should tell that for me Penicillin isn’t a breathtaking cocktail but definitely good one. And I think my opinion could be wrong because of tricky components such as blended whisky and honey-ginger syrup needed there.

So the recipe:

  • 60 ml blended Scotch,
  • 20 ml honey-ginger syrup (see below),
  • 20 ml fresh lemon juice,
  • 10 ml smoky Islay single malt whisky (Laphroaig 10yo recommended).

Shake all ingredients except single malt whisky with ice. Serve in ice filled rock glass. Sprinkle (or float) single malt whisky on top. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger (I’ve used lemon zest and fresh ginger)

Penicillin Cocktail

About tricky things.

The first one is the blended Scotch. Everybody knows that each blend has its unique flavour. Sometimes these flavours are similar but usually they are not identical. And cocktails with different blended whiskies will have different taste therefore.

The second thing is the trickiest one. This is honey-ginger syrup. I was searching for the recipe for a long time but found no definite answer how to make a proper honey-ginger syrup. Obviously this syrup can be very spicy or sweet as gingerbread – it all depends on its technology. So drinks containing these syrups will differ in taste too.

The only way to solve these problems is to begin to make the cocktail.

I’ve chose Dewar’s White Label as blended Scotch, and made honey-ginger syrup according to my own recipe based on opinions of Paul Clark and Daniel Nadasi.

I took 30 grams (1oz) fresh peeled and chopped ginger, 100 ml water and 100 ml honey. Then placed ginger in small saucepan, added water and brought it to boil. Simmered it for 15-20 minutes and added honey.

When honey is dissolved, I let it to simmer for 5 minutes, then strained the syrup thoroughly to discard ginger pieces. Cooled syrup can be bottled and kept in refrigerator for a month.

So what about my Penicillin?

It was bitter-sweet drink with appreciable sourness and sweet ginger and smoky nose, very delightful to be honest.

The palate is full of honey, lemon and oak – nice but a bit slim and not too complex. Aftertaste is more attractive, it has strong start of hot and dry Dewar’s with bright pepper note. After a moment it comes to long finish of dry peaty scotch where lemon, pepper and smoke traces are present.

So… Penicillin is definitely very nice cocktail, balanced and attractive, strong and tasty. But my version of this drink couldn’t match my expectations of combining honey, ginger and two good Scotch whiskies.